We recently did a workshop with our residents on the basic principles of Progressive Relaxation, with the main benefits of that practice being improved comfort and stress relief. Another complementary exercise is Guided Imagery. Guided Imagery offers similar benefits, but can be more widely used and requires less physical skill; it is one of the more attainable adjunct therapies.
Guided Imagery is essentially an elaborate name for directed daydreaming, with the vast possibility for changing one’s mood and sense of wellness. All types of people, from star athletes to patients with significant illness, have successfully used Guided Imagery to focus their thoughts in a positive, healthful direction.
Guided Imagery in the healthcare setting can be used as a means of encouraging relaxation, reducing anxiety, and as a method of distraction from discomfort. It is important to remember that the use of Guided Imagery, like other supplemental practices, cannot and should not replace the medical care provided by your physician.
To practice Guided Imagery you simply need to put your imagination to work. There are many resources available, including some that can be downloaded online, but you really only need a quiet place and your own thoughts. If you would like to help ease your or your loved one’s mind during a time of sleeplessness, Guided Imagery can be a useful tool. Assist your friend or family member to a comfortable seated or lying position. Take a few deep breaths, and begin. Envision a setting that you know to be comforting to this person and describe it in detail while he or she imagines the scene. Favorite settings might include the beach, an open field, or a lake. Help the person to notice the small details, like colors and fragrances. Suggest how healthful and restored the person feels. Alternatively, patients in the rehabilitation setting can benefit from Guided Imagery by visualizing the healing process.